Sam Porter greeted many families as they first glimpsed the fallen World Trade Center towers where their loved ones died one fateful day in September 2001.
Memories of those families and that poignant time rose to the surface Monday when Porter toured the new National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
Porter, director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, was among the individuals and groups who visited the memorial during an invitation-only period before it was opened to the general public Wednesday.
“I had waves of emotion hit me,” he said.
“I gave a lot of my heart there, and it is there with those hundreds of family members.”
Porter, 61, said he was one of six Oklahoma chaplains and disaster relief leaders who traveled to New York City immediately after the Twin Towers were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. The call from New York came even before the second tower fell, in large part because New York City leaders knew that many chaplains, first responders and disaster relief volunteers in Oklahoma City had gained invaluable experience in the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, he said.
Porter said he was impressed during Monday’s tour, which took about 2 hours and 45 minutes, that the memorial museum “tells the complete story” of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, from the 2,983 men and women who died to an in-depth look at the terrorist organization that took credit for it.
He said each victim is described in detail, and many of their belongings are displayed.